CoG Staff Wraps Up Our List of The Best Games of The Decade, Unranked (10-20)
Making a list of the best games isn’t an easy feat, especially when hundreds of options need to be slimmed down to just 20. Here is the second half of our “best of the best” for the decade. You can check out the first half our the list here.
11. Far Cry 3 (2012)
“Did I ever tell you what the definition of insanity is?” Vaas became one of the best villains of the decade when he quoted Albert Einstein. His question is also a pretty great summation of this game. Even if Far Cry 4 and Far Cry 5 have made some improvements to Far Cry 3‘s open-world shooter gameplay, Far Cry 3 is the best of the franchise, and it’s a hallmark for this decade; it’s more engaging in ways that the others just can’t bring to the table. The narrative structure can come off as a tad strange, but that’s exactly what makes it so great for this decade. Vaas is so incredibly unpredictable that each encounter is more adrenaline pumping than the last, and the main character is always barely escaping his grasp.
Of course, if you get tired of following the main storyline, you can roam the island and upgrade your weapons, fling some bombs, start some fires, and listen to the best song on the soundtrack, Skrillex’s Make it Bun Dem.
12. Hollow Knight (2017)
Hollow Knight is a metroidvania, a subgenre of action-adventure platformers that combines the gameplay and mechanics of Metroid and Castlevania. Most of Hollow Knight’s greatness develops over time as the story progresses, as its opening hours are its weakest. But give it enough time, and you won’t be able to put the game down. It’s full of hidden secrets, there’s more regions that you can count, and even more unlockable content after defeating certain bosses. Fights become more challenging, and you’ll need to use newly-unlocked abilities to defeat bosses. Hollow Knight makes the list due to its speedy controls and combat, with challenges that are hard-fought and amply rewarded. Hollow Knight offers splendid hand-drawn art and emotional music, and the world and its story are so incredibly engaging you’ll find yourself still playing even after logging 50 hours.
13. Soulcaliber VI (2018)
Soulcalibur VI was released after a 6-year hiatus and it was quickly made clear that it was the best of the franchise. Soulcaliber has always been a “button mashing” fighting game, and Soul Caliber VI is no exception. However, Soul Caliber VI is far more responsive in terms of combat than what it used to be, and that’s what makes it the hallmark fighting game of the decade. Bandai Namco has done a great job expanding upon each character’s backstory, fully fleshing out personalities and weapon-type preferences. With over 16 character races to choose from, the character customization is nothing to sniff at. Character creation in this game is so heavily modded that you can quite literally make your player character look like anything you can imagine. With multiplayer, you can participate in the new ranked system and witness some of the creative custom characters.
14. Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (2016)
Story of Seasons brings back memories of the old Harvest Moon title at the very beginning. The main character leaves his/her home to start out in a new land on a new farm. The whole purpose of Trio of Towns is to prove to your father that you’ve got what it takes to start a farm, and SoS: ToT really nails it when it comes to pacing and learning to expand your farm over time. In the beginning, you can choose to fish and mine or interact with the townspeople, but if you want to progress through the game, you have to hunker down and get to work. You can choose from two different difficulties, “Normal” or “Seedling”, and much like the older Harvest Moon games, your stamina and health decreases relatively quickly. Even if you do something as small as walk outside during a torrential downpour, you’ll see your health drop, and stamina points, represented by the number of hearts your character has on-screen, communicates the message that farmers become tired and wear down quickly just like the rest of us.
The first town, Westown, is a desert settlement with a western “southern” feel. Unlike some older releases, characters in this game have a considerable amount of dialogue that makes unlocking friendship levels more rewarding. The other two towns, Lulukoko Village and Tsuyukusa Town, are unlockable through Town Link Rank quests that involve growing crops, raising livestock, and winning one of the game’s 28 festivals. Your farm degree is based off of a point system that can be increased, produce can be enhanced to increase their star rank resulting in a variety of different unlockable content, and over 16 different animals are available for you to unlock and cultivate, each having their own personality types and their own byproduct ranks. SoS: ToT has its own multiplayer system that players can utilize to trade items amongst each other; very useful if, for example, you need a crop that’s only grown in the summer and you’re currently playing in autumn. There’s a lot to do in this game and you will easily spend over 60 hours diving into its depths.
15. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
16. Pokémon GO (2016)
The initial launch of Pokémon GO has become a tad repetitive after the wave of new Pokémon releases. In generation 1, you could spend hours looking for nesting species in different parts of the neighborhood you lived in. Nowadays, the Pokémon that you want are more easily accessible, coming from eggs and raids, but it wasn’t always this way and the Pokémon franchise has come a long way in terms of bringing people together with the release of Pokémon GO. This game brought about a new way to play Pokémon – it got people out of their homes, it makes you exercise and meet new people, and even bonds families together. Overall, it was a great addition to the old, monotonous gameplay (add some friends that will stop playing before you do, beat the game, EV train, and the ultimate endgame: shiny Pokémon).
Pokémon GO is really different when it comes to interacting and keeping people together. It’s incredibly easy to get into, and the best part is being able to play casually without feeling pressured to participate in the game’s severely difficult raids. They have family events, such as Lunar New Year, Pokemon Go Fest, Pokémon GO Halloween, to name just a few. There have been several psychological studies that have examined families who interact and play together, which is the biggest selling point for the franchise. Unlike other Pokémon games, Pokémon GO is something people of all ages can enjoy. Parents who don’t have a lot of time to sit down and play a video game can play on the go and it’s made even better by forcing families outside for exercise and interaction with each other. The game is incredibly easy to understand even if you have no idea how the game works. The app will signal that you are close to a Pokemon. You tap on the Pokemon, and a “battle” begins, allowing you to throw pokeballs until it is captured. You can hunt together, train, battle, and trade your Pokémon with people around you, which really makes this title a revolutionary enhancement of gaming in this decade.
17. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015)
The Witcher 3: A Wild Hunt is a culmination of what The Witcher has always been: heavily concocted with fantasy archetypes, and other common fantasy tropes including magic and dragons, combined with medieval environments and spooky backdrops. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was a massive improvement from the already great The Witcher 2. If you’re playing The Witcher for the first time, we suggest you back up and play something earlier, because The Wild Hunt has a considerable amount of backstory that you might find yourself saying “What?” “Who?” every 30 minutes of gameplay. But don’t let that stop you from picking this title up, it’s a great game all on its own. If you get tired of looking for Geralt’s lover and surrogate daughter, and writing down names that you can never remember no longer interests you, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt picked up on other games’ of the decade following the “open world” concept, and you can spend a lot of time maneuvering Geralt through the massive continent named Continent. In some ways similar to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you can practice cutting off monster heads with epic finishing-blows, and dabble in the games crafting system. Depending upon which decisions you made in The Witcher 2, some names that you may recognize will come along and offer sidequests, further enhancing stories and subplots. We can’t wait to see where Geralt takes us in the next decade to come.
18. Batman: Arkham City (2011)
Batman: Arkham City offers an open world with a lot to do, but what holds it all together is the strength of the story and the way the world changes as the story moves along. You can spend hundreds of hours digging up obscure lore, saving civilians, leveling up your various gadgets with challenges, or just flying around and feeling completely badass while using the most satisfying rapid travel mechanism in any game, period. All of that is very fulfilling, but what makes it truly come to life is the depth and richness of a story that was clearly crafted with extreme love and respect for the massive and sprawling Batman universe, which now spans more than 80 years of writing across various media. Even the little touches and references are beautifully designed and revealed to the player in the best possible ways, while the overarching themes are clearly a love letter to the last 30 years of Batman fandom. Combine all of this within a game that enhanced “timing action combat” in modern games, Arkham City pulls off the almost unheard-of trick of being a clear sequel to a game which was essentially perfect in its own right (Arkham Asylum), while also somehow being a massive improvement on the original. This is a franchise that has already stood the test of time, and will shine far into the future as a tentpole of this era of game design.
19. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition (2019)
Written by Noah LaShell
Dragon Quest XI (DQXI) takes everything you loved about the golden age of JRPGs, from Final Fantasy 6 to Chrono Trigger, but doesn’t try to reinvent them by any means, it refines them. DQXI banks on its cliche good vs evil plot, the “child of light” protagonist fated to slay the dark one, the princess of the kingdom joining your team of hooligans on a mission to save the world, etc. The turn-based combat is as beautifully cliche as the rest, with a modern skill tree that will never allow you to get bored hundreds of hours in. It has a plot that has shocking twists and stands as one of the finest, most emotional, and memorable adventures that, dare I say, exceeds the golden age of JRPGs. Square Enix has an extreme amount of experience creating legendary JRPGs and they blended all that knowledge together to create a masterpiece in modern gaming.
20. Dota 2 (2013)
Valve released Dota 2 a few years after League of Legends (2009) was launched, and it was a big hit for the beginnings of what we now know as the eSports community. To date, Dota 2 has about 11 million active players, which is nothing in comparison to the 115 million active players that League of Legends has, but it’s still very respectable. Both of these Multiplayer Online Battle Arena’s (MOBAs) shaped eSports in to billion-dollar industry that they are today; in October, 2018, League of Legends professional eSports team, Cloud9, became the world’s most valuable eSports team after raising $50 million in Series B funding, but eSports has been around since 1972. What makes Dota 2 and League of Legends so special is the rate at which these MOBAs became the next sporting event around the world, and it rivals the Superbowl. Twitch.tv allows a relatively accessible and convenient way for mass audiences to watch eSports without mainstream media buy-in or support – these eSports tournaments have up to 32 million viewers.
Dota 2 is a MOBA that directly competes with the more popular League of Legends. Two teams of five heroes compete on a map consisting of three lanes with a race against the clock to defeat the enemy team’s tower (known as an “ancient” in Dota). Team cohesion and communication is vital to victory, especially in a competitive setting, and everything matters – champion selection, banning enemy champion selection, what runes and special abilities to bring, what weapons to buy that will work best against what your opponent is building, etc. DotA 2 features tournaments with some insane prize pools, in fact, this year Dota 2 broke $30 million this year. MOBAs are going to be around for along time, and we expect even more success from the eSports community in the coming decade.
And with that we end the list for the best games of the decade. You can check out our first half of the list here.
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Excited for more? Or do you simply not agree with what’s on the list thus far? Yell at us in the comments!